Re: Emlyn on the teev - help!

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Thu May 17 2001 - 13:07:51 MDT

Emlyn wrote:
> From: "Natasha Vita-More" <>
> > At 10:10 PM 5/17/01 +0930, Emlyn wrote:
> >
> > >The episode is entitled "Superhumanity 2.0 - Cyborgs" (it follows
> > >"Superhumanity 1.0 - Biotech"). I can talk about that in a pretty general
> > >sense (I could probably talk all day about it, in fact, family members
> will
> > >corroborate this). However, as I've been picked on as Aussie Extropian
> > >Exhibit A, I'd be happy to represent a more rounded view, informed by
> others
> > >onlist.
> >
> >
> > >- Killer app 1: Life extension... This application will really pull
> "cyborg
> > >technology" into mainstream culture.
> >
> > You might consider using percentages: For example, 25% of Australian
> > population already has had an augmentation to their bodies. 5% now use
> > robotic arms or legs; 10% have received pacemakers; %3 percent IUDs.
> > (There are arbitrary, but I think you could get some solid facts which
> > would be persuasive in your introduction to augmentations.)
> I read a book called "Communicating Science" which said that this was
> actually not so important on TV... TV likes vague generalisations +
> passionate delivery. The classic concept is that accuracy and clarity move
> in an inverse relationship on the box.
> I'm very good with handwaving and broad brush opinions masquerading as
> "Fact", so I'll probably steer clear of garish numbers as far as possible. A
> nice one is that 10% of americans are cyborgs when you look at drug feed
> implants, pacemakers, articifical joints, articificial skin, etc. It must be
> true, I read it on the web somewhere.
> >
> > >You see this uptake already. I have relatives who shall remain anonymous,
> > >who delve into these areas... HRT is a great example. These people will
> not
> > >label themselves
> >
> > HRT is a different augmentation - a chemical augment to monitor female
> > hormones to prevent the onslaught of menopause. You could suggest that
> > even the mind is augmented by ingesting certain hormones to regulate the
> > chemistry of our bodies for a more healthy and vital life.
> >
> HRT is supposed to extend life, though, as a side effect (cool side effect).
> Drugs may well count as cyber enhancements too... anyone got an opinion on
> that?
> > >- Killer app 2: Net connection

This one may actually seem more important to the audience than life
extension. Imagine simply speeding up data absorbtion rates, say by
figuring out how memory is created and finding a faster way of
translating data (say, text files or books) into memory. Got a 100
page research report or legal brief to wade through? Plug a fast OCR
scanner into your skull, wave it over the pages, and learn it all in
detail as fast as you can turn the paper...and that's one of the more
primitive (and thus, possibly nearer-term) possibilities. *That*, I'm
pretty sure, will make your average viewer sit up and take notice, even
those who dismiss everything else you say as fanciful.

This might actually count as a different app: personal intranet. Even
if one rejects all external connections out of fear that hackers or
corporations may abuse them, one can still get much use out of a closed
system where every machine is responsible to oneself only - though the
'Net connection would be an improvement. For instance, in the above, a
scientist could get through a research paper quickly. With a
connection to the online repositories of several major journals, the
scientist could review all known research worldwide in some new field
in an afternoon. For once, legislators might actually be able to
consider all the impacts of proposed law changes, rather than being
rushed from bill to bill and having to trust instincts and politics.
And, of course, cyber-telepathic cell phones don't make sounds when
their users get a call in the middle of a theater.

And if you want to delve into the fanciful here: imagine a computer
mind running alongside one's own, sharing all sensory input,
remembering what one remembers, recording one's judgements, all present
for playback on demand. At first, this might seem to be merely
"perfect memory", a trait that some humans have naturally. But it also
serves as a backup, such that if one's body fails, the box can be
transferred to a "blank slate" - say, a clone of oneself, kept mindless
and unconscious so it does not become an independent human being,
possibly engineered in an artificial womb for 20-odd years - and, with
some formatting of the organic brain, one lives again, in a younger
body (possibly better than the one that one had naturally, at least at

Frankly, though, it looks like the mental aspects may be more
immediately appealing to the audience than the physical aspects, since
there is not as much public conditioning against mental augments than
against physical ones.

> > So, you could introduce the idea of enhancing "beauty in the eye of the
> > beholder" by saying we can tweak our visual recognition patters to
> > highlight facial qualities that we like and reduce those that we find
> > unappealiang.
> Ugly detector... yes, that would be amusing. Also, it raises some
> interesting questions. Why bother to look after your physical appearance at
> all, if people will, for the most part, repaint you as they desire in their
> mind's digital eye?

At least in the short term - which the audience can most relate to, and
some will confuse with the long term despite your best efforts - most
people won't have said digital eye, or at least apply it to strangers.
(Lovers, for instance, can make it so their loved one always looks like
whatever their fantasy of the moment is.)

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